Samsung’s Gear 2 may have only officially seen the light of day a few short hours ago, but the company’s wasted no time delivering the dev tools to support it. This morning at IFA in Berlin, the Korea-based electronics giant announced the public release of its Tizen Development Kit (SDK) for the Gear S2.
The Tizen Gear S2 SDK, which was announced in April and has been available in early access for a few months, exposes hooks for a few of the smartwatch’s unique features. Apps can operate in “standalone mode” apart from a connected smartphone — like Apple Watch apps on Apple’s upcoming watchOS 2.0, they can use 3G and Wi-Fi data, make phone calls, and leverage location-based services independent of a tethered device — and can tap the Gear 2’s processing power for a performance and graphics boost. Unlike Gear apps of the past, they can connect with Android phones beyond Samsung’s walled ecosystem, too, albeit only those that meet specific hardware and software requirements (Android 4.4 or higher and at least 1.5GB of RAM) and with a few significant caveats (proprietary Samsung features that require a paired phone, like Samsung Pay, won’t work).
Samsung’s pushing the Gear S2’s unique controls. The updated SDK lets you tie smartwatch’s rotating bezel to horizontal and vertical scrolling, zoom navigation, and specific interface elements (think the minute hand on a clock or a list of notifications). And perhaps in recognition of Tizen’s development barrier to entry (it lags behind Google’s Android Wear and Apple’s watchOS in terms of adoption), it’ll support the migration of Web apps to Gear devices.
Samsung’s expecting more than Gear S2 1,000 apps at launch in addition to the 5,000 already available on Gear devices, which places it slightly ahead of Android Wear (Google in May pegged the number of apps at 4,000) but far short of the Apple Watch (8,500 as of June, according to Apple). But several heavy hitters are among the new additions: a bezel-leveraging sports app from ESPN; a CNN news app; watch faces from Bloomberg Business and Twitter; Uber, Yelp, and TripCase apps; Yale and Unikey NFC smart lock apps; a Voxer app; mobile payment apps FidMe, Groupon, and Allipay; and Nike+ Running. All in all, not bad for a the Gear S2’s first day.
Samsung’s encouraging developers interested in making apps for the Gear S2 sign up through the company’s developer portable.